Updating the Inventory of Zanzibar Leopard Specimens
Martin T. Walsh
and Helle V. Goldman
he Zanzibar leopard
Pan-thera pardus adersi
was oncewidespread on the IndianOcean island of Unguja (Zanzibar,Tanzania), but most authorities nowconsider it to be extinct, or very ne-arly so (Anonymous 1997, Goldman& Walsh 2002). This little-known en-demic has never been studied in thewild, and our knowledge of it there-fore rests largely on historical andethnographic reports (Goldman &Walsh 1997, Walsh & Goldman 2007)and the physical evidence of museumspecimens.
Despite a history of vigorous persecu-tion, material from Zanzibar leopardsis almost as elusive as proof of their survival into the present. Recognizingits potential importance for genetic andother research, we have compiled dataon known specimens and the historyof their collection, including informa-tion on material that has been seen or reported outside of museums. The fol-lowing notes summarize our findings todate.
The standard work on the mammals of Zanzibar (Pakenham 1984) mentionsonly four museum specimens. In thecourse of investigating these, however,we were shown another two, bringingthe total number to six. They are listed below by museum and date of accessi-on, together with our current understan-ding of their provenance:
The Natural History Museum (former-ly British Museum), London
1. Skin and skull of a young adult male[BM 188.8.131.52]. This came from thevicinity of Chwaka on the east coastof Unguja, and was sent to the muse-um in 1919 by Dr. William MansfieldAders, who held the post of EconomicBiologist in the Zanzibar Protectorate.It was subsequently described by Po-cock (1932) as the type of
P. p. adersi
.His photograph of the skin was alsoreproduced in a paper by Dobroruka(1965), disputing the identification of the subspecies as an island endemic.2. Skin of an unsexed animal [BM184.108.40.206]. This was presented to themuseum in early 1929 by John HenryVaughan, who was an administrativeofficer in Zanzibar and sent many birdspecimens to the British Museum.Correspondence between Vaughanand Reginald Pocock later in 1929 in-dicates that the latter had already deci-ded to refer this and Aders’s specimento a new subspecies. Both specimensare also discussed by Pakenham(1984) but there are no photographs of Vaughan’s skin in the literature.3. Skin of an unsexed animal, pro- bably immature [BM (NH) 84.2100].This was donated to the museum byA. D. Ingrams in 1984, too late to beincluded in Pakenham’s study, whichappeared in the same year. DouglasIngrams served as an Agricultural Of-ficer in Zanzibar in 1925-27, but thespecimen label indicates that it wascollected by his brother, William Ha-rold Ingrams (1897-1973), who helda series of administrative posts in theProtectorate between 1919 and 1933,and referred to the Zanzibar leopard inhis books (1931, 1942). There are no published descriptions or photographsof this headless and tailless skin.
Harvard Museum of Comparative Zo-ology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
4. Skin and skull of a female [MCZ36709] (Fig. 1). This specimen origi-nated in Bungi, south-east of Zanzibar town. It was collected in 1937 by Ailsa Nicol Smith, Curator of the Zanzibar Museum (1935-42), and given to Dr.Thomas Barbour, the Director of theHarvard Museum, where it was regi-stered on 30 March 1938. Pakenhamseems to have been unaware of thisspecimen, and there are no descriptionsof it in the literature. A colour photo-graph of the skin (alongside MCZ40953, which is on the left) is reprodu-ced in Walsh & Goldman (2007).5. Skin and skull of a female [MCZ40953] (Fig.
1). This leopard wastrapped “by natives” and shot at Fum- ba, south of Zanzibar town. R. H. W.
Zanzibar leopard skins at the Harvard Museum of ComparativeZoology: MCZ 40953 (left) and MCZ 36709 right (Photo J. Winther-Hansen).